Top Books for January

It’s time to start the new year off right with new, productive habits (and working off that plate of cookies eaten over the holidays). Need advice on forming winning habits? Read Tim Ferriss’s latest, Tools of Titans (and attend our #ScribdChat with him next week!). Need some real talk about the secret to happiness? Want to become an even more avid reader? Do you just want to forget about all those aforementioned cookies with a good time? These picks will help you out. 

Tools of Titans

Karyne: I read Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Body several years ago, and quickly found that the diet and exercise it suggested were easy to incorporate into my life. Eat protein 30 minutes within waking up? Sure. Eat limited carbs throughout the week and binge hard on my one-day cheat day? Can’t wait. Swing a 30-pound kettlebell over my head? Uh. 

The good news is that it actually worked. I dropped a few pounds, learned the cool things my body could do when I put my mind to it, and I lived for that cheat day. 

But the tough part was remembering all the directions the 500+ pages had to offer. I read the book cover to cover, and then continued to flip back to certain chapters when I needed a refresher. 

That’s the brilliance of Tools of Titans. In the forward, Ferriss instructs the reader to not read the book cover to cover, but instead use it as a reference guide. The topics are broken up into sections — Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise (of course) — and each chapter is titled with the name of the person featured in that section. And the content all comes from Ferriss’ successful podcast. Ferriss and his guests have learned how to hack their bodies and minds, and share their wisdom throughout the book. It’s overwhelming and fun, and a great reference book for a successful 2017.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Alex K.: Would it be an overstatement to say Mark Manson has created a new literary genre with The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck? Probably. After reading it, I can’t say I give a f*ck. The book flies in the face of so much conventional self-help wisdom (chapter titles include “Don't Try” and “Happiness Is A Problem”), that it’s hard not to label the book as anti-self-help. And yet, that label undermines how pragmatic and helpful the book actually is. We have a finite amount of energy in our lives. By applying that energy where it actually matters — by choosing our f*cks wisely, in other words — Manson argues that we’ll live happier, more fulfilling lives. In the overcrowded, oversaturated, over-clichéd self-help genre, this is is a book well worth whatever f*cks you can muster.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

Ashley: If you haven’t noticed, Issa Rae has a shtick: she’s very, very awkward. Her one and only book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, shares its name with her popular web series, which shares plenty in common with her HBO hit series, Insecure, where young black women try to navigate all the social mayhem of life without too much damage to their public image. Unlike her on-screen personalities, Rae’s memoir explores all the real-life super-awkward moments she’s endured, the ones that shaped her into the master of uncomfortable social situations that need to be laughed off. Most of these situations arise because of dreaded stereotypes about race, gender, and class that Rae wittily cuts down by not fitting neatly into any of the boxes, while at the same time acknowledging the importance of knowing how to navigate the wacky world of oversimplified personality types. Did you ever cyber way too young or try to pop, lock and drop a move when you could do none of those things? Are you an awkward person in need of advice? Rae’s here for you.

Also available in audio.

Avid Reader

Alex P.: Many Scribd readers would likely identify as an “Avid Reader”; I certainly did when I first saw the title of this book. But rest assured, Robert Gottlieb’s got us all beat. His new memoir of the golden age of publishing is all the evidence needed. From his childhood — bookish in the extreme — through an editorial career that began with an editorial assistantship at Simon & Schuster and led to top positions there, at Knopf, and at the New Yorker, there are few who know the industry better (or saw more manuscripts pass their desk). And at 85, he’s still at it: editing, anthologizing, and now, writing.
There’s plenty of bigwig literary name dropping — after all, he’s known for editing luminaries like Joseph Heller, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, John le Carré, and Bill Clinton, among many others — and industry gossip within these pages. (Most notoriously, he got off to quite a rocky start at the New Yorker, and despite righting the ship for several years his end was similarly dramatic.) But his stories of the deep and abiding friendships he formed, both with writers and with lesser-known publishing executives, remain the most engaging aspects of the memoir. After such a long career shepherding works to greatness, it's no wonder his passion comes through; as Gottlieb writes, “The act of publishing is essentially the act of making public one’s own enthusiasm.”

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